GUATEMALA: Day Four

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There’s not a much more fun way to ride around the streets of Jalapa than on a school bus that’s designed for 45, packed with 85 people. One of the other team’s bus broke down and we all had the opportunity to get quite close, literally, as we tooled around town today. We even had the police with us, so apparently we were within the bounds of the law while accomplishing such a feat.

The weather was beautiful and we had no rain today which really helped us out for our outdoor activities both in the morning and afternoon. The little kids are awesome at the daycare where we’ve been working. We’ve really been trying to love on them as much as we can while we have the opportunity to share the good news of the kingdom with the kids and their teachers. We had about 60 kids from 3-5 years old today. Stuart and Nick had the opportunity to help one of the blind children to participate with a little bit of our  soccer activity and first and later with playing the guitar. It’s was such a delight to see his smile while we played, and to hear him light up with laughter as we shared in helping him engage and feel like a part of what was happening just like all the other kids.

There are so many stories of extreme adversity that the children there are facing. One five-year-old with a little sister at the daycare had witnessed his dad murder his mom… you could literally see the weight of sadness that he carried with him, but several of our students made sure to take the time to encourage them and to help bring a smile and some fun to their day for the time that we were with them. It’s often a lot to take in as we’ve been doing ministry here in the city, but the Lord has been at work in many mighty ways to provide and to work through his Holy Spirit.

We had an injury free lunch… no basketball tournament this time. When we headed to our afternoon VBS site we were blown away to see a group of kids waiting and cheering for us when our bus rounded the corner and our site came into view. Our afternoon VBS has ballooned from 25 the first day to 55 today. We even had a few kids that we met at the daycare in the morning show up to the afternoon VBS in the neighborhood. Alyssa Easley did a wonderful job teaching the lesson of Jesus walking on water in Spanish today. It was an exciting afternoon and everything seemed to be firing on all cylinders as our group has settled into the groove of the week. As we closed out our afternoon VBS, almost everyone of our students had a couple of kids either on their lap or in their arms. Stuart held the microphone in one hand and a little girl helping him sing in the other.

Quotes of the day…

Clint Kearney says, “Woke up, ate french toast, smiled and giggled with kids, crammed into a bus, and lastly…intertwined our hearts with one another and with Jesus.” Enough said.

Jeff Dillinger says, “Just make sure you get the right water in your jug.”

Lori Dillinger’s quote of the week has been “God take me out of my comfort zone” and it’s been happening!

According to Keri Phillips, “Today we were finally organized in what we were doing. For the most part we stayed with plan “A” today, and everything went great.”

Jake Boodt’s summary of today is, “Dry.” (the weather)

Stuart Creasey says, “For a smile you can be someone’s friend, for a hug you can be someone’s best friend, and for a piece of candy you can be their girlfriend.”

Kennedy Wallace says, “The days just keep getting better.”

More quotes to come…. these were the only people I could find at the moment…

SITS: Thursday Update

Man it’s been an awesome week! Yesterday was jam-packed full of growth, laughter, discovery, and… dodgeball. We went caving yesterday during our recreation time… some of them had their first caving experience! After a fun afternoon at Carter Caves, we headed into our evening session and heard that God, the greatest author, wants to amend your story. We don’t have to be afraid to let God have our stories, because we are all on a first-name basis with Him. We looked at the story of Zaccheus, and how after his encounter with Jesus, Jesus forever had his story. After the message, artist Eric Samuel Timm, pieced together our students stories’ (that they wrote on Monday night) all over the cross in the middle of the room. With the stories, he created an image of Jesus’ face on the cross, and over it wrote AMENDED. It was, as one of our students said, “a real picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross–taking our stories, burdens, and pain… and making them his.”

After a powerful evening session and sharing in our group time, we went out for the Dodgeball Finals. And… drumroll… our kids WON! As you will see in the photos, Coach Bill truly was a part of their success. Today is our last full day here, so be praying for our students and leaders… that we will not waste a minute of it!

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GUATEMALA: Day Three

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Let it rain again! This morning was beautiful. We were excited to get started in the community where our morning VBS would be h/eld and we arrived willing serve and ready to go. There was only one problem, no kids. We had canvassed the neighborhood the day before and were ready with a location provided by one of the men of the Christian Church here in Jalapa. So, we waited….

We were blessed to have the prayer team with our group this morning. The prayer team is a group that has joined us here in Jalapa to simply bathe the entire week in prayer and rotate around with each group on their specific projects. So while we waited, we also prayed. Then, we thought, if the kids weren’t coming to us, we would go to them. We packed up our stuff and divided into small groups and went out and his the streets to talk with people, pray for them and to share the love of Christ.

It was neat to interact with so many people as we walked around, and as the prayer team prayed for us, for our conversations, and for the community. Not long after we were running low on supplies, the gentleman that was providing his house for us to use as our morning VBS location came riding up on a moped with his young boy. “I have good news,” he said. “I have 100 kids waiting for your group.” Our eyes got a little large, and my mind immediately went to the passage of Jesus feeding the 5000 with the loaves and the fish, because we were out of stuff.

A few minutes later we had a bus coming by to pick us up and we were of to a government run daycare. Our understanding is that its a facility for lower income children where most of them spend all day while their parents or guardians work. It’s a free service to families and they provide breakfast and lunch to the children, which for some is just about all that they get. The kids we got to meet were absolutely precious. Our team immediately went to work just loving on them and almost everyone had two or three kids, mostly preschoolers, hanging off of them and laughing and playing. For security reasons, as per the government’s instructions, we are not allowed to take photos of the kids, so that’s why you won’t be seeing any from the government daycare.

We organized a really fun time of singing some praise songs in spanish and played a few games and somehow had enough snacks and prizes to cover all 100 children. It was an amazing experience and one that we’ll have the opportunity to share in the remaining mornings from here on out. We didn’t necessarily have the full picture of what was in store for us today, but God did and it was amazing.

We broke for lunch around noon and while we were waiting for the final meal prep we had our first two injuries of the week. Our boys have taken to some pretty fierce competition on the basketball court with some of the other groups and Jake Boodt twisted an ankle, while Clint cut one of his toes pretty badly while going for a layup (which he made, by the way). Again, because of God’s provision, the medical team was on site for lunch and Clint had a team of doctors, nurses and EMT’s right there to help. They put together a makeshift ER and after making a tourniquet with a silly band the doctor stitched him up good as new and we still had plenty of time to eat lunch and catch the bus back to our afternoon VBS site. We complimented Clint on his timing of getting injured over lunch with a complete medical staff present so we could get him patched up and keep on going… (We’re taking good care of him – Paul & Kelley)

After lunch Clint has a comfy chair to elevate his foot and relax from, while the rest of us jumped in with tay two of our afternoon VBS site. The 25 kids that we started with ballooned to around 40 and we had a great time with the teaching, singing, crafts, games and hanging out. The rain came with vengeance just as we were had everything cleaned up and it was off to the hotel for the evening. The students are currently getting cleaned up and there was a very loud dance party happening that I’m sure you’ll eventually see documented on video. Overall it’s been an amazing day in which we’ve continually seen God show up and lead us in amazing ways. Keep praying for our strength and for the Holy Spirit’s leading in all things.

SITS: Wednesday Update

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Good morning! Yesterday was an amazing day. We woke up bright and early to hear from Danny Curry as he introduced the theme for the day. We heard that God wants to use our lives as the canvas to display His art to the world. Even though we mess up our story sometimes, or things we cannot control come in and invade our stories, He has the power to change it… to edit it… to rewrite it… and to amend it.

Some of our students got to take part in Active Water’s Water Walk yesterday. The “Water Walk” is an experience set up to expose students to the hardships many people endure just to have a glass of dirty water. Some of them even went at it barefoot to get the most authentic experience. As you can maybe tell by the pictures, we had our dodgeball tournament yesterday. Two teams went at it and one of our teams made it to the final four tourney, which will take place tonight at 10:30!

We have a lot going on here in Youth Ministry this week… students learning, being challenged, serving, and loving others, and all so God’s light will be seen through us. Pretty incredible, wouldn’t you say?

GUATEMALA: Day Two

Day two found us feeling well with a solid night’s sleep behind us and the excitement of a day of work in the neighborhoods before us. We started out the morning at the soccer stadium in Jalapa where the mayor, the chief of police, and a few other local officials greeted us warmly and encouraged us in the work that was ahead. It was really neat to experience the hospitality and open arms with which our team was received by so many in the city.

Toward the end of the mayor’s remarks a gentle rain began to fall. By the time we loaded back up into the bus and arrived at the first neighborhood we were to walk through to invite to the neighborhood VBS that gentle rain had become steady. We thought about waiting it out to do what needed to be done, but the enthusiasm of the students won out against the temporary deterrent of the weather and we were off to walk the streets. The team did great at getting our flyers out even as we dodged the rain drops, a few free ranging cattle, some goats, and a pig that apparently Jake Boodt tried to take a brief ride on…

After lunch we made our way to our afternoon VBS site and jumped in with day one. At the start of our time there were about 4 or 5 frightened young girls that braved the unknown to participate in a few of our ice breaker games. By the end of our time together we were laughing and carrying on with more than 25 kids who had wondered into our street throughout the course of the afternoon. The students on our team did so well. It was neat to see the interaction and excitement build. Language barriers melted away through games of hot hands and intent work on beading a bracelets together. We’ve got some work to do yet on our singing and leading kids songs in Spanish… Even though our pitch may be lacking we make up for it with our enthusiasm.

So far today Nick W. and Jake are dominating in the evening euchre tournament. Alyssa fell mostly in the pool while washing her feet off after a friendly soccer game in the courtyard with everybody. Taryn (Tarly) enhanced her already beaming smile with some rosy sunburn on both cheeks. Patsy, Doug and Kelly filled up about 150 water balloons, and everyone enjoyed an authentic Guatemalan spaghetti dinner. It’s been a good end to a beautiful day.

GUATEMALA: Day One

Imagine the scene as three packed out coach buses led by a police escort roll into a Central American mountain town of Jalapa, Guatemala. It was obvious by the commotion leading to the Hotel Puente Viejo that something was set to happen as God’s people gathered to IMPACT the city of Jalapa for Christ this week.

Our team arrived safely earlier in the day in Guatemala City with all of our luggage and a couple of smooth flights behind us from Indianapolis.  After a long bus ride (4+ hours) on a windy mountain road we arrived safely in Jalapa as well. The logistics have come together amazingly well, as one could hardly imagine what it’s like for 155 people to find all of their luggage and check into a foreign hotel at the same time after having traveled all day and not slept very much the night before. The hotel staff is fabulous and we’re a little spoiled because our accommodations resemble a tropical oasis. We ate a late dinner 8:45 PM local time/10:45 PM EDST which was our second impressive taste of Guatemalan cuisine (the first being a fast food Polllo Campanero stop on the way from the airport).

Everyone is healthy, although many are weary, and we’re excited for a solid night of sleep and our first day of VBS. We’ll be canvassing two neighborhoods in the morning and then jumping right in to our planned first day of activities in the afternoon. There’s quite a lot of excitement and anticipation in the air among the whole group of 155 of us. Also joining the team are 15 people from the Disciple Maker’s  partner church in Honduras that have joined in as a mission team of their own to help with translation and other general leadership, bringing the total number of workers here in the city for IMPACT ’11 to 170 people. We’re excited as the Lord leads us in the days of ministry that are ahead.

SITS: Tuesday Update

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Good morning! We’re heading into our 2nd full day here at SITS in Grayson, KY. Yesterday, we heard all about how we are a small part of God’s bigger story. During our worship experience, the students had an opportunity to “write their stories,” no matter how long, short, adventurous, painful, exciting. Several writing stations were set up throughout the room, and during worship students ventured over to begin writing their own story… where they are from, who has shaped them, what experiences they remember most, etc. 

Today, we are looking at what happens when we take God’s story and trash it for our own. Please pray for us as we take a look into the mirror today and discover how we have ignored (or trashed) what God has given to us.

SITS: Monday Update

Hey everyone! We’re heading into our first full day here in Grayson, KY. This morning, we learned all about how God wants to amend our stories, or, as one student put it, “Make things right.” We just finished up lunch and are about to head into our workshop times. Students have the option of going to Man of God, Women of God, Active Water’s Water Walk, orExpressing Your Story every day from 1-2pm. After that, we’re heading out to the lake because it’s a HOT day! Here are a few specific prayer requests for the rest of our day:

  • Pray that we will all have fun together this afternoon and bond together as a youth group.
  • Pray that today we will all be able to see, maybe for the first time, that our lives are a small part of a much bigger story that God is writing.
  • And–as always–pray for open hearts!

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